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During the first two years of the project the eLene2learn network collected more than 60 case studies, where teachers and students of Secondary and Higher Education provide practical tips and indications on their "first hand" learning experiences using ICT and digital media. This "collection" contains two different types of report:

  • The "How to guide" scenarios describe current practices, tools and methodologies used in the application of ICT to develop learning to learn competencies. The scenarios were collected through Focus Group with students and teachers; Download the printable version of the "How to guide"
  • The Case studies report, in detail the implementation of  practices, methodologies and tools used within real classroom settings. Recommendations and suggestions help you assess the benefit of replicating these practices, methodologies, etc. in your own context. These resources are highly valuable as they come from a direct evaluation by  students and teachers involved.  Some of these resources are (also) partly available in Italian, French, Greek, Finnish, Polish, Spanish and German. If the translations  are available, you can find the translations directly on the sub-pages of each case study. (The most recent Case Studies are listed first on the top); Download the printable version of the Implementation Report.

You can browse the case studies here by Benefits and Tags. The two different type of report can be easily filtered using corresponding tags.

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by eLene2learn Network, these contents are licensed unser Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License       

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Case Study - Blackboard Blog - Higher education - UoD

General information
.Level (age of students) Adult returners to HE entering SCQF level 7, 8 or 9. Age 23 – 64 years
.Discipline / subject / course Education (Childhood Practice)
.Number of participants 25 students (1 group) who use module Blog
.Category of the tool Blogs
.Tool / resource Blackboard Blog
.Country Scotland
.Language of the tool or resource English
.Time plan start date Start date: 1st April 2013
.Time plan finish date Finish date: 5th July 2013
.Did you use an example scenario from the initial phase of the eLene2learn project as an inspiration? No
Specific information about given case
.Aim To investigate how a renewed emphasis on peer learning through the Blog can encourage autonomous learning.
.Objectives •To investigate the experience of the student as co-moderator of the Blog.
•To examine the types of discussion which create a collaborative community.
•To increase understanding of the types of learning developed in peer-moderated online discussion environment.
•To investigate the impact on student confidence as learners.
.Learning to learning (L2L) competences to be achieved •Communication (reading and writing)
•Collaboration with peers
•Thinking, problem-solving and decision making
•Being creative
•Motivation and confidence
.Proposed activities Over a four week period, four student volunteers co-moderated a Level 9 module blog within the University virtual learning environment (VLE). Each student was co-moderator for one week, during which time they were free to submit posts of their choosing related to the content of the module.
.Pedagogical approach taken The students undertaking this module at the time were sent a letter at the start of the project, explaining the details of the project and their right to not participate.
In addition to this the project was discussed on online discussion boards and webinars.
The four volunteer co-moderators were sent an advice sheet which stated the aims of the project, provided details of their role and some general ideas for posts for the blog.
.Methods of evaluation his was an action research project using a mixed methods approach, conducted with 25 students.
Data methods:
•Questionnaires – two questionnaires were sent to all participating students; one at the start of the project and one at the end, measuring impact of the change. The Likert Scale questionnaire focused on how students used the module blog.
•Focus group – five students volunteered to take part in the focus group, including one co-moderator. The focus group discussion was digitally recorded and then transcribed.
•Content analysis of posts – copies of all posts created during the four week period were collated and then thematically analysed.
.Ethical statement The ethical guidelines provided by the University of Dundee were followed.
Participants were fully informed about the elene2learn project and the use of the data for the project and for the improvement and development of their course.
Participants were advised that engagement with the project was not compulsory. They were advised that anonymity throughout the project would be preserved and that data gathered would be used for academic purposes, including electronic publication.
Evaluation of the outcomes and impact for learners (summaries of feedback)
(with particular attention paid to the initial aims and objectives of the implementation plan and the key competencies developed)
.Summary of student feedback - Usage (max 200 words) During the four week period 103 posts were submitted to the module blog consisting of 23 separate discussions. Predominantly the activity consisted of communication between the four co-moderators supporting each other; four additional students made contributions at various points throughout the period.
In terms of average number of views per week, this did increase during the four week period with the highest number of views for one post being 30.
.Summary of student feedback - Benefits (max 200 words) Students appreciated the fact that for the four weeks of the project, regular contributions were being made to the module blog. While students enjoyed the general support role that the blog had, such as sharing successes and challenges, during the period of the project it was felt that the co-moderators had spent time thinking about their contributions and that this had made the blog an interesting place to visit. This is consistent with the increase in the average number of viewings during this period.
The focus group also highlighted the benefit of attaching student photos to profiles, so that they appear every time a post is made. It was felt that this made the distance learning experience a less lonely one, and that people were also then able to put names to faces during face-to-face workshops.
A student during the focus group commented on the fact that having students as co-moderators had given them the confidence to make a contribution because they felt that if co-moderators could do that then so could they. One of the co-moderators felt that it had given them the push to make contributions on the blog, and that they had needed that.
.Summary of student feedback - Development of competencies (max 200 words) Motivation and confidence was the predominant theme arising from the data. There were two aspects: confidence in using the VLE and confidence to write and submit a post in a public space. Comments from the focus group indicated that levels of confidence had increased in both.
The posts demonstrated that the students were very supportive of each other, particularly if concerns or worries about the module were expressed. Co-moderators were supportive of each other; they responded to each other's posts and sent supportive comments.
Communication was the second most predominant theme. Primarily this was linked to the role the blog plays in making students feel less isolated from their peers. In terms of developing reading and writing skills, students posted up articles that they themselves had found useful or relevant. The posts were also written in a formal, academic manner.
In terms of Collaboration, it was apparent from the posts that the co-moderators were working together as a team to support each other and extend discussions.
One student in the focus group highlighted the level of thought and creativity required by co-moderators to put up relevant posts. Co-moderators created posts which posed questions on topics for students to discuss.
.Summary of student feedback - Challenges or barriers (max 200 words) A major barrier identified by the students was the demotivating effect of the lack of response to posts from students other than co-moderators.
Lack of confidence was also highlighted as an issue. Students were concerned about contributing posts which contained incorrect information in a public domain. The focus group felt that there needed to be a balance between tutor and student co-moderator posts, particularly if there were queries with regards to the assignment.
The focus group discussion also highlighted that students felt that reading and responding on the blog was an additional task to writing the assignment rather than an integral tool to support their learning.
.Summary of student feedback - Improvements that can be made to the activity or the application (max 200 words) •Ensuring that significantly-sized groups of students are all working on the module at the same time and therefore using the blog at the same time.
•Encouraging former students of the module to access the blog and share their knowledge and advice with those who are currently completing the module.
.Summary of tutor observation - Usage (max 200 words) The co-moderators needed guidance, support and most importantly, reassurance that what they posted would be relevant. They were very concerned that they would be making posts in an academic environment, however once the project started the four co-moderators took their role seriously and were conscientious in writing posts, contributing to other posts and providing words of encouragement to each other. Once this project had finished, they moved together on to their final module of the programme and have continued to make regular contributions on that blog too, again supporting each other and responding to each other's posts.
The number of viewings during the project increased significantly compared to the period prior to the commencement of the project, however the number of contributions made by other students did not. Primarily this appears to be due to a lack of confidence, and from the focus group, a perceived lack of time for those who considered the blog to be an additional extra rather than an integral learning tool. I believe these attitudes are linked to the way that the blog has been used and promoted in the past; all the students have been on the programme for at least two years.
.Summary of tutor observation - Benefits (max 200 words) For the four weeks of the project, the blog was an interesting place to visit, from the perspective of the tutor. The co-moderators worked together and supported one another, and made a good effort to encourage other students to contribute. It is interesting to see that they have continued to do this in their next module.
There was also a buzz of activity in the week following the four week project, where students who had not made contributions before decided to make a contribution, usually to thank the co-moderators for their work. A possible reason for this would be that the students felt that the blog was no longer under the scrutiny of the researchers and so became a ‘safe' place again to make comment. This links directly to the issue of a lack of confidence in their ability, highlighted in the focus group.
A sense of community appeared to have been created, aided by the addition of photographs. Distance-learning students feel isolated and the blog is seen as a place to overcome this.
.Summary of tutor observation - Development of competencies (max 200 words) Motivation and confidence need to be developed in the students before other competencies can be developed such as creativity, thinking and problem-solving skills. The success of a blog of this sort relies on students reading the posts and making relevant contributions; the data demonstrates that many students lacked the confidence to do this. The enthusiasm of the co-moderators to subsequently make posts on other blogs indicates that their levels of motivation and confidence have increased as a result of the project although the focus group indicated that they may not be able to recognise that for themselves yet.
Students primarily saw the blog as a place to develop social communication skills and felt challenged when required to use it as a learning tool.
.Summary of tutor observation - Challenges or barriers (max 200 words) The students felt that the blog was an important place to communicate with their peers however lack of confidence, in using the VLE and in writing posts, is a major barrier; students need further guidance and support from tutors in the early stages of their student career. Tutors need to demonstrate the importance of the blog as a learning tool and so further research is required into the types of post that students will respond positively to and into the type of modelling required.
.Summary of tutor observation - Improvements that can be made to the activity or the application (max 200 words) It would be beneficial to run this project for a longer period of time with a new cohort of students to compare the results.
Reflection and recommendations regarding the activity and approach used by the teacher, tutor or trainer
.What worked well? (max 250 words) The project provided strong evidence of a lack of confidence in academic ability and technical aptitude in our students, and therefore highlighted the important connection that this has with developing further competencies in learning. Although the co-moderators did not feel that their confidence had increased, there is evidence to suggest that it did, and that the project created a community of practice amongst the four volunteers. This would suggest that there are benefits to students taking on the role of co-moderators at some point during their academic career; the evidence also suggests however that this level of responsibility would not be suitable for our students to undertake at the start of their academic career.
For the four week period there was a higher level of enthusiasm demonstrated by the students and the tutors, and the blog became an interesting place to visit. Support for the work of the co-moderators was demonstrated in the focus group.
.What would be done differently? (max 250 words) This project would benefit from being conducted over a longer period of time and at a different time of the year. The focus group highlighted that the project ran at the same time as a well-recognised hot-spot in the school calendar (school reports needed to be written). This had an impact on the return of questionnaires and the number of contributions to the blog.
It would also be beneficial to conduct this project with new students to the programme, as these students would not have pre-conceived notions of the blog tool, and therefore would not demonstrate a resistance to change that was felt in the focus group. With new students, the distinction could be made from the start that there is a Childhood Practice Community blog which should be used for the purposes of getting to know one another, and the module blog, which is a tool for learning.
Co-moderators found the advice and support sheet useful, however they would benefit from some further training or modelling from tutors. This could be done in the form of a face-to-face session or an online webinar.
.Recommendations for other practitioners who may consider using this approach (max 250 words) Students need to be confident that they have the ability to make relevant posts on a public domain online tool. Students as co-moderators developed further confidence and skills in creative thought however students need to build up to this role so that they can take it on confidently and recognise that they have the ability to do this.
All students need to develop their awareness of the use of blogs and discussion boards as a learning tool in addition to social communication tool. It is the responsibility of the tutors to model this and to develop this awareness through digital literacy activities with the students.